Leading travel influencer Brooke Saward has legions of fans worldwide. They follow her every intrepid move not just for holiday inspiration, but also for her thoroughly researched, tried-and-tested tips on how to travel well, especially as a solo female; check them out on World of Wanderlust. Brooke might roam far and wide, but she seems to find herself back in Paris with impressive regularity. So who better to kick off the My Paris series of interviews …
You’ve travelled all over the world — why do you have such a soft spot for Paris?
I was mesmerised by Paris as a young girl, probably since watching the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen film Passport to Paris!
The city has such a romantic appeal and the French language itself is so beautiful that I’ve always associated the city with romance.
What’s your favourite Parisian memory?
The first time I visited Paris solo was so special to me. I remember walking down Rue de Rivoli and stumbling upon Angelina teahouse by accident, absolutely freezing in the January chill and going inside to escape the cold. I was told by the waiter to try the chocolat chaud, Angelina’s signature drink.
I will never forget how thick and delicious it was after running around Paris all day in the cold weather. I went back every day for the rest of my trip!
What’s your preferred time of the year to go?
I’m a sucker for spring in Paris and for the past few years I have visited every April (this year is the first time in four years I haven’t!) The cherry blossoms really bring the city to life and bring new life to Parisians’ attitudes as I suppose they can feel summer (and the famously long summer break) around the corner.
What’s your favourite place to stay?
I love Pavillon de la Reine opposite the Place des Vosges in Le Marais. I have been staying in Le Marais for years and it always feels like coming home.
What are your top shopping addresses?
I really love Merci concept store (111, Boulevard Beaumarchais 75003) – it’s a mecca for finding new French designers and artisans.
I also love walking around Saint-Germain des Prés in search of vintage stores and seeing what treasures can be found in store. It is amazing how affordable designer vintage clothes are in Paris, I suppose with the oversupply from Parisian women’s closets!
What’s the best thing to do in Paris if you’re on a budget?
Honestly just walk around! This city is a living history, especially if you are a literary fan. So many great works were written here (e.g. Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast). Walking around Paris is one of my favourite ways to discover the city and often leads to so many great finds you can’t read about in guidebooks. My favourite neighbourhoods for wandering around are Montmartre, Saint-Germain and, of course, my favourite of all: Le Marais. If you’re looking for something less gentrified, I also love Canal Saint-Martin.
You’re a foodie, so can you please share your favourite …
Breakfast? A double espresso with a flaky croissant — my favourite is from Carette on the Place des Vosges. I just don’t think there’s a more Parisian way to start the day than outside on a tiny table with Paris passing you by as you enjoy your caffeine hit with a buttery, flaky, delicious croissant!
Lunch? L’As du Fallafel in Le Marais.
Vegan? Wild and the Moon and Hank Burger.
Macarons? Carette again.
Afternoon tea? I love going to the Four Seasons George V as it is always such a lavish affair and you never know who you’re going to see there (it’s a mecca for celebrities and heads of state).
Apéro? The terrace at the Shangri-La (open in summer months; make a reservation by emailing [email protected]).
Dinner? 114 Faubourg is a great brasserie style restaurant inside the beautiful Le Bristol Hotel. I’ve never had a bad experience there! Perfect for a splurge.
What’s your most loved museum?
The Musée d’Orsay. I love walking through the halls and marvelling at the likes of Van Gogh and Monet in the same day.
Do you have a ‘Secret Paris’ address you can share?
My favourite view of the Eiffel Tower is from Avenue de Camoëns.
The next time you’ll be in Paris, you plan to …
One of my favourite past Parisian experiences was learning to make macarons with a French pastry chef and loving it so much that I returned the following year to learn how to attend a French entremet class in the basement of the Ritz Paris. I would next love to do a longer pastry course over a few days, perhaps at Le Cordon Bleu.
What do you always pack for Paris?
Layers! I love visiting Paris in the shoulder season which usually means sunshine but cold mornings and early evenings. A scarf/shawl is a must!
What’s your favourite book on, or set in, Paris?
Paris Dreaming (of course!), The Only Street in Paris: Life in the Rue des Martyrs by Elaine Sciolino and Paris Letters by Janice MacLeod are my top three favourites… though I think if there’s a book on Paris, I’ve read it!